| 03.24.2018

Making connections, making change – Elizabeth Cooper named director of Integrated Design Lab


Elizabeth Cooper said during her time as a partner at an architecture firm she saw people building the same things over and over, but Cooper said she wanted to promote change.

“Everything I”ve pursued was founded on making connections,” Cooper said.

Cooper said she enjoys making connections and solving problems, and she has found that she can use architecture, chemistry and biology to do that. She intends to demonstrate that in Boise with the Integrated Design Lab, where high-performance, energy efficient buildings are designed. Cooper was made the Integrated Design Lab director in October.

As director, Cooper gets to perform both research and management for the Integrated Design Lab. She said she is extremely interested in her work – she has a master”s degree in architecture and environmental health, as well as a bachelor”s in biological sciences – and she gets to integrate all of it into her work.

The Integrated Design Lab does great research, Cooper said, and one of her goals is to move the lab from making high-performance buildings to high-performance communities.

Cooper said she strives to create buildings that are not only energy efficient but also aesthetically pleasing. Cooper said she also wants to put a lot of work into making the buildings healthier for those using them.

“We are on the demand side of energy,” Cooper said.

Cooper began working at UI Boise in April amid many other staff changes. She said there had been a huge shift in personnel over the past year, and she and former lab director Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg had discussed her interest in potentially stepping into the director”s role.

Cooper said the staff changes are “bittersweet.” Yet, as many great staff members leave the Integrated Design Lab, she noted there are many more coming in who are very good, and she is happy to be working with them.

Cooper said she plans to continue working with the community and firms such as Idaho Power and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Cooper said she wants to expand what higher performance means for the lab. She said this would include looking further into water use and water waste, as well as into ways to make buildings healthier for their inhabitants.

Cooper also said the work environment of the lab could make or break its success, especially for the people working there. She said she wants to create and foster a good culture where people can have fun and explore creative ideas.

“People are an important resource,” Cooper said.

Marisa Casella can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter at @marisacasella1

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